Trip to Mullaitivu on my Motorbike


Nanda Wanninayaka (15)

I stopped enjoying the ‘Sri Lankan New Year’, which falls in the mid-April each year, since I was a teenager. Endless sweetmeats, innumerable friends who visit you and the obligatory return visits you have to make and so forth. At times silly fights by stupid intoxicated people, much the worst from liquor, having to acknowledge and pay homage to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the village who are elders, takes a toll on oneself.  Therefore I have given the New Year celebrations a miss each year.  Last year, I went to Kilinochchi and spent time there with Miss Dekala’s family which was an amazing experience.

On the Mahawilachchiya Resovoir bund

On the Mahawilachchiya Reservoir bund

This year I was invited by Prasanna Balachandran, a person who lives in Vattapalai, Mullaitivu to spend the New Year celebrations with his family. I readily accepted the invitation and left Mahawilachchiya around 8.00 am on April 15, 2017 on my motorbike. It was a comfortable ride as there was hardly any vehicular traffic on the roads. I took the shortcut via the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, bypassing the commercial part of the city. Had a drink of tender coconut water at Thuparamaya, but I was not happy the way the old woman talked to her customers. I felt like refusing the coconut water, but later changed my mind as I thought she was annoyed with herself for the fact that she had to work even on the New Year’s Day to make a living.

Nanda Wanninayaka (7)

I rode to Medawachchiya and bought a new backpack as I had to take my laptop during this trip. You may wonder why I take my laptop everywhere, the reason being, I am not that comfortable with my smartphone, typing on such a small device takes its toll on me. I wanted to take a few photographs at Medawachchiya and since taking selfies is not my forte, I requested the young man who sold me the backpack to take some pictures. He took a few pictures which I found to be excellent, I never expected him to be so creative.

In Medawachchiya

In Medawachchiya

I had a small snack for breakfast at Medawachchiya and rode up to Vavuniya – which was a very dangerous place during the war waged by the Tamil Tigers between since 1975 to 2009, till they were defeated by the Sri Lankan armed forces under the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. I visited Vavuniya during war time with some retired Indian army personnel who had set up their base camp off Vavuniya to remove landmines. I would not have been there without my friends as this city was famous for the LTTE pistol gangs, who would appear out of nowhere and shoot at soldiers and policemen. Vavuniya was a city where Tamils, Muslims and Sinhala people lived but it was not a safe place for anyone during that time. But now the city is very peaceful and the three communities live in harmony.

in Vavuniya

in Vavuniya

I got the help of a passerby to take few pictures of me, but he was not unto the job. Cannot blame him as it was the first time he had used a smartphone. I thanked him and proceeded further. For some reason I don’t like Vavuniya city, it has some very badly cooked food outlets and I try my best to pass this city faster every time I pass it.

I was stopped by a two traffic police officers along A9 road, I did not understand as to which traffic offense I committed. But when I removed my helmet, they asked me to continue riding. I am not sure why though.

I wanted to go faster on my bike on the straight A9 road, but my bike mechanic advised me not to speed as he needed to do a full engine check after this trip. So I did not go faster than 70, the legal speed limit on the roads in the island.

At Puliyankulam the road branches, with one going to Jaffna and the other to Mullaitivu. Mullaitivu city was the only city that I had not visited in Sri Lanka. So it was an exciting experience to me. I would not have remembered any of the small towns I passed, if not for the big battles that took place in those towns that cost many lives and property damage to both the terrorists and the government forces during war.

in Nedunkerny

in Nedunkerny

Around Nedunkerny I took another picture again with the help of an amateur.  From Puliyankulam to Mullaitivu the road is very straight and surrounded by a thick jungle. Hence I did not feel the effects of strong sun upon me. By now, I was getting hungry and luckily there was a woman who sold papaya and orange juice on the road side. I had a glassful of papaya juice and it was refreshing.

In Mullaitivu

In Mullaitivu

My friend Prasanna wanted me to come directly to his village Vattapalai without going to Mullaitivu town. But I went to Mullaitivu as I wanted to pay my mobile phone bills. Luckily there was a Cargills Food City supermarket and I could pay the bills and go to Vattapalai as instructed by Prasanna. Once I reached Vattapalai around 2.00 pm, Prasanna came to the road and welcomed me. He took me to his in-laws’ house and they offered me a simple, yet tasty lunch. Then I visited Prasanna’s house which was within walking distance. His two kids were very cute and playful.

I wanted to rest a while and had a nap for an hour or two. Then we both visited the nursery run by Prasanna free of charge for the village kids. Prasanna had spent most part of his life in Germany and did not go back to Germany as he had fallen in love with a village beauty. He runs the nursery with the ad-hoc donations he gets from donors in Germany.

We then visited Mulliyawalai to meet Father Dixon who is a pastor whom I had spoken over the phone a few days back after being introduced to each other by a mutual friend. Father Dixon can fluent in Sinhala, Tamil and English. We had a chat after which we returned to Vattapalai.

Mulliyawalai town

I spent the night in Prasanna’s in-law’s home and left Mullaitivu after taking a few selfies with them.

With Prasanna's in-laws

With Prasanna’s in-laws

With Prasanna and his in-laws

With Prasanna and his in-laws

It was surprising to see the green ricefields in Vattapalai during this drought. This is the only green ricefield. I saw during my whole trip.

As soon as you pass Vavuniya and take the Vavuniya – Anuradhapura road, after passing the Air force camp you will see this wonderful oasis. It is clear blue water surrounded by beautiful foliage and aquatic plants. I spent around half an hour here as it was so refreshing.

An oasis in Vavuniya

An oasis in Vavuniya

I reluctantly left this cool oasis and then came to Medawachchiya and then TanTantirimalee through Medawachchiya – Cheddikulam road. Passed Bogoda Bridge. This was the farthest point we could go from Tantirimale during war. But now anyone can go anywhere in the country.

Roads from Vavuniya to North are very nicely paved. I doubt roads in Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka are as good as the ones in the North (and East for that matter.)

Language never became any issue during all my visits to the North and the East in Sri Lanka both during and after the war. I never tried to talk in unknown Tamil or English here. I talked only in Sinhala. To my surprise, the people here helped me very enthusiastically when I asked for road directions or anything else. I did not see any hatred in their eyes towards me. People were nice to me since my first visit to Tamil Tiger controlled area before 2005. I think the hatred was just created by the terrorists and by the politicians from both sides of the fence.

I never thought I would be able to see a peaceful Sri Lanka before old age. I never imagined my son would be able to live in a peaceful Sri Lanka with the way the war was dragging on. But lasting peace came before his first birthday!!!

Now I have been to all districts in Sri Lanka. Feel happy. Thanks Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa for making this possible by ending the three-decade-long war. Without you two, this would have been just a dream. (Thanks Basil Rajapaksa for wonderful infrastructure here in the North. I know my friends won’t be comfortable with me thanking BR due to obvious reasons but he has done a lot here. His way of doing things was the problem here.) If not for MR’s “three idiots” (and obviously Basil R too,) MR would still be the President of Sri Lanka. But it was not to be.

Bertolt Brecht says in the Caucasian Chalk Circle “War is over, peace is coming. Beware of the peace.” With all his experiences as a politician, MR messed up big time by not being able to manage the peace which came much faster than they expected. They tried to manage the peace with the same drastic ways they managed war, without being able to understand the difference between the two phenomena.

Fire (1996 film)


fire mocie1

Lesbianism had been there from the time immemorial. The middle age history tells that the term Lesbian came from the Greek island Lesbos. The island is still called Lesbos in the maps. According to some legends, the island Lesbos was used to outcast the bad women. There was not a single man in the island and obviously, women started having sex with each other. Hence the gay women were called lesbians, the inhabitants of Lesbo.

“The word lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos, home to the 6th-century BCE poet Sappho. From various ancient writings, historians gathered that a group of young women were left in Sappho’s charge for their instruction or cultural edification. Little of Sappho’s poetry survives, but her remaining poetry reflects the topics she wrote about: women’s daily lives, their relationships, and rituals. She focused on the beauty of women and proclaimed her love for girls. Before the late 19th century, the word lesbian referred to any derivative or aspect of Lesbos, including a type of wine. More at http://www.pravdareport.com/society/sex/24-08-2007/96325-lesbian-0/)”

Lesbo island

Lesbo island

Many people raise eyebrows when the word lesbianism is mentioned but I think it is the most beautiful thing that can happen between two women. (Hearing about gay relationships between two men makes me vomit though. Even the very thought of it is disgusting for me.)

Fire, directed by Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta was the first Indian mainstream movie about lesbianism. The film is loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s 1942 story, Lihaaf (The Quilt) (The 2004 Bollywood movie Girlfriend was also on the same theme but I haven’t watched it. Prima facie it looks more of a cheap commercial movie hence I did not take the trouble of watching it.)

As expected, there was a big protest against the movie when it was released to theaters in India. The protesters went up to attacking and setting fire to the theaters that showed the movie. Most of the opposition came from the rightwing Hindu fronts like Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.)

Radha (Shabana Azmi) is married to Ashok (Kulbhushan Kharbanda,) a man who is dedicated to temple than to bed. Their marriage is devoid of marital bliss and excitement. Radha is disappointed and dejected in her sexless marriage. To make things worse, Radha is infertile. Ashok tries to submerge his worldly desires and has not slept with Radha for the past thirteen years!!! Ashok forces his younger brother Jatin (Javed Jaffrey) to marry a girl proposed to him, Sita (Nandita Das) but his heart is elsewhere with a Chinese-Indian coquette. Jatin continues to date her even after his marriage t Sita. Thus, new bride’s sex with her husband is limited to one off chance of being deflowered by Jatin at the honeymoon night. Even that at that one time he behaves like a moron who does not enjoy taking the beautiful bride’s virginity.

Ashok and Jatin run a small business that sells food and rents videotapes. Biji, Ashok’s mother is immobile and speechless after a stroke.  Sita and Radha have to attend to Biji. Mundu, the family servant is loyal to the family but his only pastime is masturbating while watching sex videos on TV, while Ashok’s paralyzed mother Biji is disgusted by the servant’s actions but she is unable to protest as she cannot talk or get up from the bed due to her old age.

Now let us get back to the two daughters-in-law of the old mother. In the meantime the two daughters – in – law Radha and Sita who are deprived of sex with men become the best of friends. Radha is very caring for Sita and the latter reciprocates positively. One day, all of a sudden, Sita kisses Radha. Radha is flabbergasted but does not protest. This makes Sita going the distance to become fully fledged lesbian lovers. There is one topless scene of the two women and it has been beautifully filmed. The rest my readers, I will leave you to watch the film and see.

P. S.

I personally missed the chance of meeting Nandita Das as we both were awarded the same fellowship from the World Economic Forum but I was denied this at the eleventh hour. (Well, that is another story.)

fire movie13 big

fire mocie2

How to Start a Successful Blog in One Hour – Steve Scott


How to Start a Successful Blog in One Hour – Steve Scott

How to Start a Successful Blog in One Hour – Steve Scott

“How to Start a Successful Blog in One Hour” by Steve Scott provides you almost all the information on how to start a blog (with WordPress.com) and monetize it in a few easy steps. It is brief, easy to read and has the exact information you need for the purpose.

WordPress.com is not the easiest blogging platform. Obviously, Blogger is easier and it is totally free. For some reason, I started my blog with WordPress and taught the same to my students. Having heard this, a friend of mine told me that I have got into the pool from the deep end.

WordPress is complicated and you have to pay them if you exceed the free quota of web space (3GB) but it is worth the pain with the type of facilities it offers.

The book “How to Start a Successful Blog in One Hour” will teach us how to use WordPress to get a blog online in under an hour. The simple seven-step process will teach you to have your brand new blog with a theme, ten plugins and four tools for building a effective web presence. The entire process will only take one hour to complete.

Even if you already have a WordPress blog but not exploiting it enough this is the book you should read. You can definitely get something from the book and make your blog both content rich and technologically advanced among the rest of the blogs.

Steve Scott takes you through a basic introduction to domains, hosting and traffic, etc. He straightforwardly tells you how to set up a blog that will suit your needs.  It does have its technological jargon but it doesn’t affect you even if you are new to blogging.

Indian intervention in Sri Lanka: The role of India’s intelligence – Rohan Gunaratna


Indian intervention in Sri Lanka: The role of India's intelligence - Rohan Gunaratna

Indian intervention in Sri Lanka: The role of India’s intelligence – Rohan Gunaratna

Much has been written by many Indian and Sri Lankan writers about the Sri Lankan civil war and India’s role in it. But Professor Rohan Gunaratna’s book, “Indian intervention in Sri Lanka: The role of India’s intelligence agencies” stands out among them as it provides a good account of the civil war from the inception till the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the then Indian Opposition Leader. (A second time candidate for Prime minister).

The book provides solid evidence of how India manipulated Sri Lanka’s civil polity by creating, funding, training and arming the various groups of Tamil youths by re-naming them as freedom fighters. Sri Lanka opened its economy (which was a closed one hitherto) to the whole world, especially to the West and with the high literacy rate she boasts of, Sri Lanka had all the ingredients to become the next Singapore in the region,  but India thought otherwise. They were busy with persuading frustrated Tamil youths to terrorists who could go at length to kill their own people let alone the enemy. The Tamil youths were converted into members of the world’s most ruthless terrorist outfit, the LTTE.

Professor Gunaratna has accessed the photo evidence of Sri Lankan youths being trained in India, even in Uttar Pradesh, let alone Tamil Nadu. Indira Gandhi started the heinous scheme which was taken forward by her son, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who paid the price by being blown up by the very terrorists whom he helped. Apparently the alleged suicide bomber was said to have been gang raped by the so called Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) soldiers whom Rajiv Gandhi forced the then Sri Lankan president J. R. Jayawardene to accept into Sri Lanka.

The book extensively details how the then Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Mr. Jyotindra Nath Dixit masterminded the ugly coup to intervene in Sri Lanka’s political sphere unethically. The unfortunate thing is that most Indians do not believe this and they have been brainwashed by the Indian government and the media with the story that Sri Lankan President requested Indian Premier to send its forces to fight Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamil terrorists.

Prof. Gunaratna has done a lot of research to infiltrate into the LTTE to find facts about the most ruthless guerrilla outfit in the world. Velupillai Prabhakaran, the undisputed leader of the LTTE, fires his first bullet to kill Alfred Duraiappah, then an MP for Jaffna from the SLFP. Since then, the former never looked back. Professor Gunaratna gives a detailed account on how the LTTE was formed and how its cofounders were killed by the LTTE itself for it to gain supremacy over the other Tamil militant groups.

Though we blame the LTTE for all the bombings and mass killing today, the book reveals that some of the bombings in Colombo were done by the other Tamil militant groups such as TELO, PLOTE, EPDP, EPRLF, EROS, etc.

Having had the opportunity of interviewing the VIPs from both Sri Lankan and Indian governments, Prof. Gunaratna has firsthand knowledge about how politics worked between Colombo and New Delhi. Characters like Jyotindra Nath Dixit, M. G. Ramachandran, M. Karunanidhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi had gone beyond the accepted diplomatic boundaries to enable the LTTE become a powerful force against the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL.) The late President J. R. Jayawardene’s West oriented policies also played a big role here. He should have been more diplomatic with the Indian leaders and solved the problem.

The failure by President Jayawardene to quell the Black July riots in 1983 that killed a few hundred Tamils in Sri Lanka lead the Tamil Nadu and the Government of India (GOI) to be more sympathetic to the militant groups. The latter made use of this sympathy to become stronger politically and militarily. Subsequently, military training camps to train the militants mushroomed in India. Rather than the Indian High Commission, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the intelligent agency of India took care of the relations between the two countries.

Professor Gunaratna details how the deteriorating relations between the two countries resulted in India violating Sri Lankan airspace and subsequent forced Indo-Lanka Peace Accord and the arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF.) It was ironic that the IPKF happened to fight the LTTE, who had been trained by the GOI, itself.

Professor Gunaratna also describes how series of peace talks were held between the militants and the GOSL, starting from Thimphu, Bhutan to the Hilton Hotel, Colombo and how the LTTE sabotaged each opportunity to come to a compromise by getting what they wanted. The biggest betrayal of all was the attacking the GOSL forces after allegedly obtaining money and weapons from the then president Ranasinghe Premadasa. This angered him a lot and he appointed Ranjan Wijeratne, the energetic UNP Chairman as the Minister of State for Defense. Having foreseen the impending threat to the LTTE by the minister, they were able to remove him from the scene by using a remote controlled car bomb. Had he survived the attack just like Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa did, the story of the LTTE would have been different.

India’s attitude to Sri Lanka took a different turn after Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister was brutally killed by an LTTE suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur, India in 1991. The LTTE was proscribed in India and the GOI was more helpful to GOSL. The book ends there.

I feel Professor Gunaratna’s book is factually correct to a great extent, but the downside is that it has some grammatical errors. This may cause a credibility issues in the minds of some readers. I hope this could be rectified in any future reprints.

සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම – මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ


සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම - මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ

සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම – මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ

සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම - මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ

සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම – මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ

මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ මෙනමින් පොතක් ලියා ඇති බව මම කොහෙවත් අසා හෝ කියවා හෝ නොතිබුණි. එහෙත් මා හිතවත් ඩොනල්ඩ් ගාමිණීතිලක මහතා ඔහුගේ පුද්ගලික පුස්තාකාලය හිස් කරනවිට ඉතා දුර්ලභ පොත් කිහිපයක්ම මා හට ලෝභ නැතුව ලබාදුනි. එම එකතුවේ සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම පොත ලියා ඇත්තේ කවුදැයි බැලූවිට මා පුදුමයට පත්වූයේ එය මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ ලියා ඇතිබව දුටු විටයි. ඔහු සාහිත්‍යට අමතරව විද්‍යා කෘති ලියා ඇති බව මා දැන සිටියත් සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම වැනි පොතක් ලියා ඇති බව දුටු විට සෝවියට් දේශය ගැන කුඩා කල ඉමහත් භක්තියක් තිබූ මම අතිශයින්ම සතුටට පත්වීමි.

වික්‍රමසිංහයන් මෙම කෘතිය ලියා ඇත්තේ සෝවියට් දේශයේ දීර්ඝ සංචාරයකින් පසුව ඇතිවූ පහන් සිතෙන් යුතුවය. මේ පොත සඳහා ඔහු ඉතා වෙහෙස මහන්සියෙන් අවශ්‍ය දත්ත ලබා ගැනීම සඳහා බොහෝ සෝවියට් ප්‍රකාශන කියවා ඇති බව පෙනේ. විශේෂයෙන්ම ඉතා නූගත් ගැමියන්ගෙන් පිරි විශාල භූමි ප්‍රදේශයකින් යුතු ජනරජයක් ඉතා කෙටි කලකින් අධ්‍යාපන සහ තාක්ෂණික අංශවලින් ලද දියුණුව පුදුම සහගතය. සෝවියට් ප්‍රචාරාත්මක ව්‍යාපාරයේ බලපෑමට යම්කිසි දුරකට වික්‍රමසිංහ හසු නොවුවායයි කීමට අපහසු වුවත් කෘතියේ අඩංගු දත්ත බොහෝදුරට සත්‍ය බව සෝවියට් දේශයේ සතුරන් පවා එකඟ වූ කරුණකි. අධ්‍යාපන, සෞඛ්‍ය, විද්‍යා, තාක්ෂණ, සාහිත්‍ය සහ ක්‍රීඩා අංශවලින් සෝවියට් දේශය පැන්නේ සෝවියට් රිටි පැනීමේ ශූර සර්ජි බුබ්කාගේ පිමිවලටත් වඩා උස පිමිය.

මේ පොත ඉතාම දුර්ලභ සහ වටිනා පොතක් වුවත් මා එය මා හිතවත් දයා විජේසිංහට ලබා දුන්නේ ඔහු මටත් වඩා හොඳට එය සංරක්ෂණය කරනු ඇති බවට ඔහුගේ පුස්තකාලය දුටුවිට මට සිතුණු බැවිනි. කඩදාසි පොත්වලට වඩා ඉලෙක්ට්‍රොනික පොත්පත් වලට මා බොහෝ වේගයෙන් අනුගත වෙමින් යන නිසා තව දුරටත් කඩදාසි පොත් පත් වලට මගේ සීමිත ඉඩකඩ ප්‍රමාණවත් වේදැයි සැක සහිතය.

සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම - මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ

සෝවියට් දේශයේ නැගීම – මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ

රෝහණ විජේවීර සහ ඔහුට ඉතිහාසයේ හිමිවිය යුතු තැන


rohana_wijeweera_1943-1989

බොහෝ දෙනෙක් රෝහණ විජේවීර දරුණු මිනීමරුවකු සහ තරුණ තරුණියන් දහස් ගණනක් අයාලේ ගෙන ගිය අපතයකු පමණක් බව ඔහුගේ පෙන්වන්නට මේ දිනවල ලොකු උත්සාහයක් ගනු පෙනෙන්නට තිබේ. (කුමක් හෝ හේතුවකට මෙයට වැඩියෙන්ම දායක වන්නේ විශ්‍රාම ගිය ජවිපෙ සාමාජිකත්වය සහ වැලේ වැල් නැති වාමාංශිකයන් වීම විශේෂයකි. අනෙක් අතට බලද්දී විජේවීරගේ අඩුපාඩු දකින්නට හැකි හොඳම අය ඔවුන් විය හැකිය.) වීජේවීරට ආයුධ සන්නද්ධ විප්ලවයක් කරන්නට (දෙවරක්ම) සිදුවුණේ පවතින තත්ත්වය යටතේ තිබුණ එකම සහ දුෂ්කරම මාර්ගය එය වූ නිසාය. ජරාජීර්ණ වූ පක්ෂ දේශපාලනය තුළින් තට්ටු මාරු ක්‍රමයට වලව්වේ හාමුලා සහ මැණිකෙලා තොග ගණනින් පත් කරගත් මෝඩ ජනතාවගේ ඡන්ද බලය ගැන කසිම විශ්වාසයක් විජේවීරට නොමැති වීම අහම්බයක් නොවේ. (අප කොතරම් පිළිගන්නට අකමැති වුවත් වේලුපිල්ලේ ප්‍රභාකරන්ට ගන්න තිබුණෙත් මේ මාර්ගයම පමණය. ඔහුගේ වැරැද්ද පීඩකයන්ට එරෙහිව සියලුම ජාතීන්ගේ සහය ලබාගන්නවා වෙනුවට දිගින් දිගටම පීඩනයට පත්වුණ සිංහල, මුස්ලිම් ජාතීන් මෙන්ම ඔවුන් විමුක්තිය උදාකර දෙනවායයි කියූ දෙමළ ජනතාවටත් එරෙහිව කළ අරගලයක් නිසාය.)

කෙසේ වුවත් අද අපි විජේවීර ගැන පමණක් කථා කරමු. ඔහු පරමාදර්ශී ආකර්ෂණීය නායකයකු නොවන බවත් ඉරිසියාකාර, කට ගඳ ගහන නායකයකු බවත් කිහිප තැනකම සඳහන් වී තිබිණ. මම 71 කැරැල්ලට පසු ඉපදුන කෙනෙක් නිසා ඒ ගැන දන්නේ පොත පත ඇසුරින් කියවූ දේවල් පමණය. 88-89 කැරැල්ල කාලයේදී සාමාන්‍ය පෙළ සිසුවකු වූ මට විජේවීර ආකර්ෂණීය නායකයකු සහ ඔහුගේ ව්‍යාපාරය බලාපොරොත්තු තබාගත හැකි යමක් ලෙස පෙනුණි. එහෙත් එයට සෘජුව සම්බන්ධ නොවීමට එකම හේතුව වූයේ සමාජවාදියකු වුවත් ඉතාම දැඩි මානව හිතවාදියකු වූ මගේ පියා අවිහිංසාවාදය ගැන මට කියාදුන් කරුණු නිසාය. මට තුවක්කුවක් නොගැලපෙන බවද මට හොඳින් වැටහෙන්නේ දැන්ය.

අද පරම්පරාව සහ ඔහුගේ සමකාලීනයන් විජේවීර අපතයකු ලෙස දකින්නේ ඔහුට දෙවරම විප්ලවය සාර්ථක කර ගැනීමට නොහැකි වූවා පමණක් නොව අමානුෂික ලෙස ඝාතනය වීමටද සිදුවූ නිසාය. ඉතිහාසය ලියන්නේ ජයග්‍රාහකයන්ය. චේට, ෆිදෙල්ට, ලෙනින්ට, මාවෝට ඉතිහාසයේ වීරාඛ්‍යානයන් බවට පත් වන්නට හැකියාව ලැබුණේ ඔවුන් ජයග්‍රාහකයන් වූ නිසාය. මේ බොහෝ දෙනකු, සුරා සොඬන්, ස්ත්‍රී දූර්ථයන්, ඝාතකයන්, සල්ලාලයන් (තේරෙන භාෂාවෙන් කියනවානම් බේබද්දන්, බඩු කාරයන්, මිනීමරුවන්, පාදඩයන්) බව අද කවුරුත් කියන්නේ නැත. විජේවීර දත් මදිද්දීත් කට ගඳ ගැසූ අතර මාවෝ ජීවිතේට දත් නොමැදීම නිසා කට ගඳ ගැසුවත් මවෝගේ කට ගඳ කාටවත් ප්‍රශ්නයක් නොවේ.

විජේවීරට වැරදුන් තැන් බොහෝය. සමහරවිට ඔහුට හරි ගියානම් සහ විප්ලවීය ශ්‍රී ලංකා ජනරජයේ යාවජීව නායකයා වුවා නම් අද ඔහුගේ කතාව පෙර සඳහන් කළ වීරාඛ්‍යානයන්ගේ අතර රන් අකුරෙන් ලියවීමට හෝ විජේවීරගෙන් පසු ඔහුගේ බිරිඳගේ සහ දුවරුන්ගේත් පුතුන්ගේත් පාලනයකට (උතුරු කොරියාවේ මෙන්) රාෂ්ට්‍ර පාලනය බාරදී විජේවීර අද විමල් වීරවංශ මෙන් පීචං චරිතයක් වීමටද ඉඩ තිබිණි.

රෝහණ විජේවීර.jpg

විජේවීරගේ ප්‍රබලතා මෙන්ම දුබලතා ගැන ඕනෑ තරම් මට වඩා සුදුසුකම් ඇති අයගෙන් ලියවී ඇත. මම දේශපාලන බ්ලොග්කරුවකු නොවෙමි. මට හිතෙන දේ මේ අයුරින් අකුරු කළේ ඔහුට මට හැකි පමණින් යම් තරමක හෝ සාධාරණයක් ඉටු කිරීමටය. ඔහු අනිත් අයට කලින් අවදිවීම හුදු අහම්බයක් පමණක් නොවන බවට ඔබට මතක් කර දීමටය.

che-guevara

Castro

mao_zedong

v-i-lenin

Dialog, My Favorite Sri Lankan Company


Dialog Logo

Dialog Logo

I fell in love with three Sri Lankan companies ever since I had some experience with them. This is about the third company I admire a lot and recommend for other young people to work at (or do business with.) (This is not a paid advertisement, I write this on my own free will.) I am listing the three companies only in chronological order of me meeting with them, not according to the order of my preferences.

Read about my other preferences at these links.

  1. https://wanni.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/sampath-bank-my-favorite-sri-lankan-company/
  2. https://wanni.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/masholdingsmyfavoritesrilankancompany/
  3. Dialog Axiata www.dialog.lk

Dialog was the 4th entrant to mobile telephony industry in Sri Lanka. The first entrant was Celltel (present day Etisalat) and people termed all other late entrants Celltel as it was the first cellular operator here.  Other operators such as CallLink, Mobitel were there, but Celltel was the pioneer and they had the biggest chunk of the cellular market.

Dialog was the fourth entrant to the mobile market in Sri Lanka after Celltel (1989,) CallLink (1992,) and Mobitel (1993.) Dialog was launched in 1995 and the fifth and final entrant being Airtel in 2009. (Get more details at http://newsbuzz.kathabuzz.com/evolution-sri-lankan-telecommunication-industry.)

To be frank, I did not like the Dialog brand name at first. I was taught British English and the American English spelling in Dialog did not go down well with me. But what I liked most about Dialog was its attractive advertising campaign with cool images of young people. Still nobody including me expected Dialog to be this big in mobile telephony as Celltel was the undisputed market leader.  A fourth entrant had no chance according to many.

But Dialog surprised the mobile telephony market introducing a lot of new technologies before other operators even thought of introducing them to Sri Lanka. As a result, Dialog became the market leader in no time. Dialog became a household brand even in places they had no coverage. Everybody’s dream was to buy a Dialog mobile connection and was eagerly waiting till they got coverage. Dialog published advertisements whenever they covered a new city or a small town with a “COVERED” stamp on a billboard in those cities and small towns. They also published the same stamp in the media implying your town or village will be covered next.

I first visited the Dialog Head Office in Colombo 02 for a small conference held there as a representative from Slimline (MAS Holding) in 2001. I was amazed to see the futuristic interior design and the attractive posters inside the Dialog head office. There were smiling young staff members everywhere. By this time, I needed mobile coverage to my village Mahawilachchiya in Anuradhapura badly, as Horizon Lanka was flourishing but its growth was affected without telephone access. Internet access was only a dream those days as the only way to get internet access was having a fixed telephone line, which was not in any telephone operator’s plans those days. Anyway, at the conference I questioned the Dialog staff as to why they did not cover places like my village. (I did not know much about business plans and sustainability of a business those days so did not understand the logic behind why they did not extend their services to villages like ours.) I met a young man called Supun Weerasinghe and we had a chat as to how to extend Dialog’s coverage to Mahawilachchiya. (Supun Weerasinghe is tipped to be Dialog’s Group CEO from next year when the incumbent GCEO takes up a bigger position in the Axiata Group at regional level.)

In late 2001, there was an offer from a mobile phone sales company for Slimline (MAS Holdings) employees to buy a mobile device with an easy payment scheme. But I was not interested as I thought it was a hassle to have a mobile phone as my other colleagues who had them were in great trouble as they kept getting calls even during non-working hours. Besides, you had to pay even for incoming calls those days. So, it was not in my plan to buy such a nuisance that was coupled with heavy bills.

But I had to change my hostile attitude towards mobile phones when I fell in love with my sweet girlfriend within few weeks of refusing the mobile phone. I immediately bought an Ericsson mobile phone. The first present I gave to my girlfriend was another mobile phone, because I knew that communication was essential in love.

I left Slimline in May 2002 and returned to my village to work full time for my own organization, Horizon Lanka. Though I had my mobile phone, there was no mobile signal in the village.

Dr. Hans Wijesuriya, CEO of Dialog Axita

Dr. Hans Wijesuriya, CEO of Dialog Axita

Once there was a presentation at JAIC Hilton, Colombo held jointly by my former boss Dian Gomes and Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, the Group CEO of Dialog. After Dr. Wijayasuriya’s presentation I got up and questioned him at length as to why Dialog neglects villages like ours and why they can’t cut down expenses on huge billboards installed around cities and invest that money instead on villages like ours. Then he explained why these every aspect of a business was equally important – and that while the company did invest heavily in rural expansion, billboards and other marketing initiatives were equally important and how it is was imperative to stick to a business plan. I was no businessman but understood what he explained.

But I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email from Mr. Mothilal de Silva, the then General Manager of Dialog. He wrote to me saying that he was coming to Mahawilachchiya to see if Dialog can at least provide us temporary connectivity. They ensured it happened and there were very strong Dialog mobile signals in a 50-meter radius around an antenna they fixed on the Horizon Lanka computer lab roof. This operation did not cost Horizon Lanka any money and Dialog installed the equipment at their cost. We could use mobile phones easily from the lab and the immediate environs of it. The villagers also came to the close vicinity of Horizon Lanka to make calls with their mobile phones. (My intention here is not to tell the story of how Dialog helped my organization. If you are interested in learning about it more, please click here.)

Dialog introduced a lot of cutting-edge new technologies to Sri Lanka, far before they were introduced to India, the bigger market. Some say that this was due to the reason that Sri Lanka is a considerably small island and big telcos found it easy to test new technologies in Sri Lanka. But the why did Dialog do it, and why not other mobile companies? There must have been something that attracted Dialog’s investors, and they live up to their promise of delivering ‘The Future. Today’. And ultimately we, the consumers, benefitted.

A Dialog Advertisement

A Dialog Advertisement

Dialog also offered competitive prices with different packages for different walks of lives. The “KIT” (shortened for Keep in Touch) package was one such major step. The KIT package became very popular among youths and low income groups. The demand for this package was so high that Dialog had to pause issuing new connections during some periods. This, in Dialog CEO’s words, was dubbed as “You have to be strong enough to say NO at times”, which I learnt from him. In parallel to this, Celltel issued a very weak product called “Tango” to rural areas, which required users to put an antenna. Still people hardly got any signals as the company issued more connections than they could manage. Celltel’s good name was tarnished beyond repair among rural folks due to the inability to say NO when it mattered most.

Dialog changed their company name from Dialog GSM to Dialog Telekom and then to Dialog Axiata due to changes at parent company level, but this did not discourage Dialog customers or would-be-customers to change their loyalty to the company.

Dialog has stiff competition from Mobitel, a fully-owned subsidiary of Sri Lanka Telecom since it purchased Mobitel from its former owners in 2002. Dialog may have lost a considerable chunk of market share as the former, being a government and private venture, had the upper hand in attracting government servants and pensioners – which is a huge number in Sri Lankan context – with their ‘Upahara’ and similar attractive packages. But Dialog was proactive in introducing the Blaster package which offered 1000 minutes of free calls to other Dialog subscribers.  Since Dialog was already widely available network, even a considerable number of government servants and pensioners stuck to their good old Dialog package or converted their package to Blaster. Blaster package with its 1,000 minute free calls within the network was a huge impact in the local mobile market hitherto unknown in this part of the world I guess. Even the new entrant Airtel, the local subsidiary of India’s mobile giant Bharti Airtel, was no match for the pricing and marketing of Dialog. Airtel’s entrance was an anti-climax and even those who were given free Airtel SIMs (I was given two when I bought a mosquito net from a shop in Anuradhapura J) threw them away and stuck to their first, second, third or fourth love in Dialog’s case.

This post became lengthier than it should have been. So, to conclude this, I would jot down the reasons I admire Dialog Axiata:

  1. Simplicity of the Dialog logo
  2. Cool and excellent customer service 24X7 (Others have different opinions about this but me being a priority customer, I get VIP service.)
  3. Attractive advertising
  4. Corporate Social Responsibility (Sustainability) projects
  5. Ethical business (as far as I know)
  6. Speed in providing services, and above all…
  7. Futuristic leadership

MAS Holdings, My Favorite Sri Lankan Company


mas-holdings-logo.jpgI fell in love with three Sri Lankan companies ever since I had some experience with them. This is about the second company I admire a lot and recommend for other young people to work at. (This is not a paid advertisement but I write this on my own free will.) I am listing the three companies only in chronological order of me meeting with them, not according the order of my preferences.

Read about my other preference at this link.

  1. MAS Holdings www.masholdings.com

Slimline is one of the garment factories owned by the prestigious MAS Holdings chain of garments. I am here talking about Slimline as I have experiences working only  at that factory but my comments here are common to all subsidies of the MAS flag I guess. They have more or less the same management style and working conditions for the machine operators and the admin staff.

I had never heard of MAS Holdings till I got a message from Mr. and Mrs. Gaminitillake (first benefactors of Horizon Lanka) saying that a gentleman by the name of Dian Gomes was willing to extend some help to Horizon Lanka by donating some computers and also offer me a job after reading a short article I wrote to Horizon Newsletter! I never knew my writing ever had such an impact.

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Dian Gomes

I was taken from Colombo to Slimline, MAS Holdings’ flagship garment factory that produced world class lingerie such as high end brands like Victoria’s Secret, by the Assistant Manager of HR & Admin at Slimline, Sanjeewa Jayathilaka. We drove there by his car. We had a nice chat on the way to the factory that covered 70 km and Sanjeewa told me a lot about Slimline and Dian, the CEO of Slimline. So, I was highly taken up by the stories he told me and was looking forward to see Slimline and meet that amazing gentleman called Dian Gomes.

Sanjeewa took me to Slimline and then I was asked to be seated till the scheduled interview would take place. I was asked to sit till the interview took place and some might-be-colleagues of mine from the staff shared smiles with me and we had a talk. Then, a staff member named Menik took me on the trip around the factory.

Oh my! I was embarrassed big time,  when she took me to the factory floor,  where the young girls were making panties and bras in the thousands! Lingerie was everywhere and Menik was showing them to me  and  sharing ‘ small talk’ with the sewing girls. ( I was not in love with a girl except for the school  days  crush, which  did not take me that far during my teen years). I knew almost nothing about ladies undies. As Menik was showing me different brands, styles, etc., of lingerie,  I was hoping the ground would open up  an swallow me, as I was so embarrassed of this grand display of female intimate garments which I knew nothing about.
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MAS lingerie

Menik also introduced me to the top level management of Slimline and most of them had sexy panties on their tables but by that time I was quite comfy with, well, panties (and bras.) She explained me that those lingerie were the Slimline’s main exports and there was nothing wrong in workforce being intimate with those intimate wear. (But I was still not fully comfortable with them, well, till I met my sweet little girlfriend in 2002. I bought her a good collection of MAS sexy lingerie only from the employees’ annual sales at the factory.)

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Dian Gomes

I was briefly interviewed by the HR manager who asked me to join Slimline immediately. I was still to meet Dian though. Then a very energetic man with pleasant broad smile came into the HR department and it was Dian. He asked me when I could start working for him. Then I told him that I was to go to the USA for a short visit and would have to wait till that trip was over. Then Dian said “මචං උඹට කැමති වෙලාවක වරෙන්.” (You may come when you want buddy.) I was pleasantly surprised when my boss-to-be called me මචං (a friendly Sri Lankan term that is similar to “buddy”) because prior to this, the only private sector establishment I had worked for was Asiri Hospitals, Colombo. We were treated quite poorly there, there during 1993-1995 period. It was pure feudal system management that was in place at Asiri and the employees were treated as garbage. I will state three examples where the employees were treated like rubbish by the management there.

  1. Once a female nurse had been slapped in the face by a consultant physician for her forgetting to add one of his visits in the bill. I heard there had been a protest and the management took the doctor’s side and the nurse was not given a fair deal.
  2. We worked full time during the worse part of 1993 parliamentary and presidential elections which were marred by terrorism and political violence which resulted in long lasting curfews. But we volunteered to work long hours as we wanted to give the nurses (who traveled  from long distances to have enough time),  to go  cast their votes. Since we could not go outside of the premises due to the curfews we were given food from the hospital kitchen. The food was so bad it was nearly inedible. Some nurses had complained the relevant authority who imparted the message to the top lady who oversaw the operation and her answer had been, reliably, “ගම්වල කරවල කටු කන එවුන්ට මේ කෑම හොඳ වැඩියි.” (For those nurses who eat dry fish bones in their villages, our food is too good.)
  3. A consultant surgeon had fondled a pretty nurse’s breasts in his consulting room and the nurse had cried and complained to her superior who reported the incident to the same top lady and you would  be surprised with her answer. “ඉතින් ඕක ටිකක් ඇල්ලුවා කියලා ගෙවෙනෙවයැ!” (A little feel of the  breasts does not wear it off ?) Imagine this coming from another lady!!!!!

Still there was nothing the staff could do. Once I lead a protest of my colleagues, when their one month’s salary was deducted for not being present to sing Christmas carols during our vacation. We all went home but the crazy nursing trainer lady had ordered us to come for the carols. She got the management to deprive us of our salary for a month for this sin of not being present to sing Christmas carols which was not in our religious beliefs. When I met the then Managing Director of the Asiri Hospitals with a colleague of mine to negotiate a settlement of our due pay, he said the salary was deducted as a punishment. I asked him if the punishment for such a simple thing were too much. Then he said, “It is me who decide if the punishment were too big or not, not you.” And the management was to get rid of me giving the whole batch a special and extraordinary test the nursing trainer was to hold (with the pure intention of failing me to fire me from the job which backfired to herself and at the end; all her bad schemes were revealed by the management and it was she who was fired and not allowed to enter Asiri premises to date. I did not do anything to that effect; it is only repercussions of bad intentions that landed her in that situation. Our deducted salary also was given.

In addition to all these, we were called by surnames and had to call each other by surnames. Just imagine calling your girlfriend by surname even within working hours!!!  How about that?

(It is said that the working conditioned were changed when a young doctor called Manjula Karunaratne took over Asiri Hospitals as the CEO and now it is a pretty good place to work.)

So, with all these negative experiences in the private sector, I was in the seventh heaven when my boss called me a buddy at Slimline. I joined MAS after my trip to the USA and I felt very comfortable in the establishment from the very first day. I was given a separate PC, unlimited access to the Internet, air-conditioned working space, free food and snacks, free access to gymnasium and ample opportunities to use the sporting field for team sports like cricket, free accommodation with a cook in a spacious house with few of my colleagues, free transport, and company paid medical insurance, ample opportunities to partying at staff houses. We were given company paid training whenever we wanted them. My public speaking abilities were sharpened by one such training that the MAS sponsored me at the British Council, Colombo. I am indebted to MAS just for that more than anything else. I had been a very shy guy till I completed that great training program. My colleagues who went to the training with me were from elite schools in Colombo and Kandy and I was the only one from a not-so-famous school in Anuradhapura. After the final round of speeches we made, the trainer came to me and said my speech was the best of all. I was over the moon, not for being the best but for being able to getting rid my fear of public speaking.

We were paid a very decent salary. Working conditions were awesome. I was once asked by a colleague of mine what I liked most about MAS. My single-worded answer was “freedom.”

If I had chosen to stay with MAS, I am sure I would have easily become a top manager by now, but I chose to leave the establishment in 2002 to commit full time for my own organization, Horizon Lanka Foundation.

Slimline was situated in a very traditional village called Pannala in the outskirts of Kurunegala. But once you enter inside the factory, you feel like you are in an American state. People there were open minded and you could tell anything to anyone in the face than beating around the bush. They won’t have long faces for being cut and dry and they took the comments with a smile and changed themselves to the better. In addition to that, you’ve got five star facilities, American style management and, of course, American standard bathrooms that were super clean at any given time at the establishment.

Dian himself would pick up any litter himself if it were found anywhere inside the factory (which was extremely rare to find.) Once your boss himself does it with such humbleness, none of the coworkers need to be told to do that by the boss. Dian did it giving example and everybody got the message.

Dian also had this habit of getting mad (or pretending to be so) and shouting at his top management team on top of his voice, sometimes. I must have been the only one who was not being told off by him. I don’t know why though. I wasn’t a very good staff member as as my heart was in my village than in Slimline, something which Dian understood quite all right and made allowance for  that as much as he could. His own school alumni got earful but not me.

There was of course professional jealousy, slandering against the coworkers to the superiors to get more benefits or attention that were available just like at any other organizations. Yet for all that, especially when someone had a personal (or even official) challenge, everyone would come as a team and extend their generous help. I can remember how the coworkers and the management contributed when someone was terminally ill or was to go for a life threatening surgery. Everyone would chip in and offer help and you feel as if the company is more than your family.

I fell ill once with an acute fever and when I told my manager that I would love to go home for treatment, the manager asked me “Are you crazy Nanda? We will look after you.” And he immediately sent me to Asiri Hospitals, Colombo (the same private hospital I loved to hate for its appalling working conditions due to my bad experiences as an employee there seven years ago.) MAS paid all my bills and gave me access to the country’s best medical practitioners. My former colleagues at Asiri were highly taken up with the manner I was taken care of by MAS and I too did not expect even in my wildest dreams, that I would be able to enjoy the luxuries of a patient in this hospital would get. It was simply unaffordable for me to be treated here if I had to pay the bills myself.

Stories are too many to share about MAS. So, I would just take your attention as to what (or who rather) made Slimline a pleasant place to work. It was none other than Dian Gomes, a corporate giant who was voted many a time as Sri Lanka’s best CEO. He had a very simple way of managing this huge organization. It was merely just being friendly and let the workforce unleash their energy. Nobody was angry with the company like in the other places of work. Everybody knew honestly they would be taken care of. Everybody knew that the company would not dump them after taking the best out of them. Dian was a colleague, friend, brother, father and the Savior when you were in need. Dian did not worry much about the amount of monies spent on employees’ welfare as long as the workforce is productive and the company is meeting its targets. In most of the other garment factories, the sewing machine operator girls were treated like litter. But at Slimline, it was a different story. The staff was to call them with respect by their first name preceded by Miss, not the other way round like in most of the other places. We went to their department and distributed their salary with a lot of love and respect which they also appreciated a lot (till the salaries were transferred to their bank accounts due to fear of the salary truck being robbed by some goons. Then again, Slimline installed an ATM machine inside the company premises for the ease of the staff.)

The machine operators did not have a trade union that opposed every move of the company. Instead, they had this Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) where Dian himself was a fatherly figure rather than a corporate representative. The workforce never had to fight for a cause. The only thing they had to do was just increasing productivity. Dian would get the message and would come back to the next JCC with some more benefits that the girls didn’t fancy. Even the firebrand Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP,) the main Marxist party in Sri Lanka found no way to infiltrate Slimline for trade union actions. Why? Because Dian himself was Che Guevara, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro at Slimline. So, fake Che’s had no place, well, not at Slimline.

Dian retired from Slimline at the relatively young age of 55 and Suren Fernando, the former Financial Controller of the organization took up the reins as the new CEO. I am sure he would exercise all his knowledge and experiences in cutting costs in the establishment but with the Slimline culture I know, the company would spend what it takes to keep performing. Not even a hardcore financial controller like Suren would be able to resist that. Good luck Suren! You are going to need a lot of that.

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Dian at MAS Holdings Farewell Ceremony

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Inside MAS Factory

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Inside MAS

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Sampath Bank, My Favorite Sri Lankan Company


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I fell in love with three Sri Lankan companies ever since I had some experience with them. I fell in love with three Sri Lankan companies ever since I had some experience with them. This is about the second company I admire a lot and recommend for other young people to work at. (This is not a paid advertisement but I write this on my own free will.) I am listing the three companies only in chronological order of me meeting with them, not according the order of my preferences.
Sampath Bank www.sampath.lk
Sampath Bank was launched in 1980’s with a creative print media, radio and television promotional campaign. The English name of the bank was “Investment and Credit Bank” and the Sinhala name was simply සම්පත් බැංකුව. It soon replaced the English name as Sampath Bank also as it caught the attention of both Sinhalese majority and the English speaking minorities as it sounded closer to them than the English name. It was one of the pioneer private banks in Sri Lanka and won the hearts of millions of customers mainly due to its then luxurious facilities such as air-conditioned premises, modern technologies such as ATM cards, pleasant customer service and of course, the sweet smiling girls in the front office. They did not let let customers waste time in long cues like in the state banks that made billions of rupees but treated their customers like animals. (They still do.) But Sampath Bank was exemplary and even to date, it is the only bank in Sri Lanka that displays the date on the wall so that the customers do not have to waste time looking for the date. None of the other state or private banks is interested in providing this basic service that costs them peanuts.
I started my first ever bank account with Sampath Bank and still continue it as my main bank account. I haven’t been able to obtain any loans from them as I have not been able to save much money and continue a regular job. They also cancelled my current account. Moreover, they revoke my credit card too when I was broke. None of these happened due to their fault. I had a bad time with finances for a decade and the bank had to revoke the extra facilities extended to me due to its rules and regulations. Still they never discontinued my savings account even it did not have a single rupee for long duration of times.
I discontinued my accounts with shitty banks like Rural Bank, Seylan Bank, Hatton National Bank and Standard Charted. I have extra accounts with HSBC and Bank of Ceylon. But will close down the account with Bank of Ceylon due to its inhuman treatment to the customers (and specially to me.) Folks, never bank with BOC. They are worried only about your pocket and never in you.

Tracking Down My (Possible) Ancestry in Kalinga, India by a Motorbike


 

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Isn’t it ironic that within 24 hours of me deciding to travel in Kalinga (present day Odissa) extensively for a month on a motorbike in November this year that this article http://scroll.in/article/814562/are-the-sinhalese-people-descendants-of-bengali-and-odiya-sea-merchants appeared out of the blue? I have a great friend from Kalinga and he will find me a bike for my tour. He is Prakash Nayak and the only reason for me to be a friends with   him , was that we both share similar surnames. Me, Wanni Nayaka and him, Praksh Nayak. He says there are a lot of Nayakas in Kalinga.

I am not a historian nor  a social anthropologist. But ever since I heard this story of us, the Sinhalese, are descendants of a lion and a princess (see more here http://mahavamsa.org/2008/05/princess-vanga-sinhabahu/), I was both intrigued and ashamed (to find we are also descendants of incestuous sex between a brother and sister (Sinhabahu and Sinhaseevali) to dig into this within my limited capacity. I won’t be able to compose a scholarly work after my travel but at least I will chronicle what I see and hear on a daily updating my blog throughout the tour. This will be my fourth trip to India.

I don’t look for luxuries during my trip as I can digest anything edible and sleep even under a tree for that matter. I am quite used to rough roads as I keep riding my bike almost anywhere in Sri Lanka without much hassle. So, hardships will not dampen my spirits at all. Traveling with Meer Ali from India throughout Sri Lanka for 5 consecutive days was fun and hope I can find someone like that who can also sing Bollywood songs with me. Well, since I was an 11 year old boy, I could sing more than 500 Hindi songs. So I would love to add some more to the list.

Back to the incest story, the legend is that no royal family in Sinhapur, Kalinga was happy to let their daughter or son to marry a lion’s son or the daughter and the only option the lion’s son and daughter had was to marry each other and produce a notorious prince called Wijaya who had to end up in Sri Lanka and my friends, the rest, is both history and legend. (The more sensible take in this lion’s story would be to take the lion as a leader of a lion tribe or a very strong and powerful and unruly man I guess.)

I will not have the luxury of taking a high quality still or video camera for this tour and would appreciate if someone can lend me one. If something happens to it, I will buy a brand new one of the same make and model. Since I have to pay for airfare and other sundry expenses, the last thing I can afford is a professional camera.

Odisha Map

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